| 27 February 2024, Tuesday |

Holiday surge expected after travel rules change

Holiday booking are likely to grow in UK after the government announced on Friday that international travel rules were being simplified England .

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the travel traffic light system was being replaced with a single red list.

And fully inoculated people will no longer need a pre-departure test before returning from non-red list areas. Travel firms said they had already seen an uptick in bookings and expected a busy weekend.

As part of the changes announced by Shapps, eight countries – Turkey, Pakistan, the Maldives, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Oman, Bangladesh and Kenya – are being removed from the red list from Wednesday.

It means people returning from these destinations will no longer have to stay in hotel quarantine.

Shapps also revealed that from October travellers returning to England will no longer have to take a PCR test two days after arrival. Instead, they can take the quicker and cheaper lateral flow tests.

Huw Merriman, who is the chairman of the Commons transport select committee and previously criticized PCR tests for being too expensive, welcomed the rule change.

The Conservative MP told BBC Breakfast it would make foreign travel simpler, more cost-effective and reflected the UK’s high vaccination rate.

He also said it would be “interesting” to see if there would be some form of registration requirement for lateral flow tests.

Travel bosses welcomed the changes and reported an increase in holiday bookings since the announcement.

Thomas Cook said October half-term bookings were three times higher than in August and it expected this weekend to be the biggest of the year.

Tui also said it had seen “an uptick in bookings” for Turkey for next month, while online travel agency Skyscanner saw a spike in traffic in the 30 minutes following Mr Shapps’s announcement.

Chris Parker, director of capacity and passenger performance at DFDS ferries said the rule changes were “better late than never” but it was a “shame” that the summer season had been lost.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme there was a real collapse in bookings this year, at about 20% of 2019 bookings.

But following yesterday’s announcement, there was an “immediate spike” in visits to their website and an uptick in bookings for October onwards.